What to Carry During a Bicycle Race or Ride

We spend thousands of dollars shaving grams off our bikes only to stuff our pockets and camelbaks with an extra 800g worth of unnecessary items. I will admit that it is a risk vs reward decision. This is a list of exactly what I carried during the Cohutta 100, Mohican 100, Pisgah 111k, Wilderness 101, Breck Epic, and 12 Hours of Capitol view this past season.

Tire Changing Essentials

Spare Tube – Be sure to get a light race tube and not a heavy duty one. There is no point in lugging a heavy duty tube around when it only needs to last the remainder of a race.
Two C02 Cartridges (Threaded) – Be sure to bring two C02 cartridges. If they are the 16g cartridges, then it will take 1.5 of them to get your 29er tire inflated to a good pressure. If you completely mess up and waste one of the cartridges, then the other one contains enough C02 for you to partially inflate the tire and hobble home.
Tire Irons – Not much to say about tire irons except know how to use them.
C02 Inflator – Be sure to get a threaded inflator. They take up less space in your pocket or pack and don’t weigh hardly anything. I highly recommend the Portland Design Works (PDW) Shiny Object CO2 Inflator. I have had issues with others wasting C02 or blowing o-rings out. This one has never given me a problem.

PowerLink – If you break a chain, then this allows you to peice it back together. Most of the time when a chain breaks you will have to use a chain breaker to remove the remaining half of a link in order to put back together with a PowerLink. Click here for a video on how to use a PowerLink.

Multi-tool – Get a multi-tool that has most, if not all, the allen and hex keys needed to work on your bike. Definitely get one with a built-in chain breaker. Also, it is a good idea to make sure there is an allen on there that will allow you to tighten up your cranks. It’s usually a 10 or 12mm. It’s hard to finish a race with one crank arm and most other racers won’t be carrying an allen key to fit it. I highly recommend the Crank Brothers Pica Premium. I have been using it for routine maintenance and on trail repairs for over two years now with no issue.

Nutrition – This is really personal preference. Just bring some sort of calories that will get you to the next refuel point. I never carry actual food or gels on rides. I personally rely on Sword liquid nutrition for all rides. Its quick, easy, and efficient. I just put about 300 calories in each bottle and make sure to drink a bottle an hour.

Derailleur Hanger – This may seem like overkill, but I promise it’s not. I have seen broken derailleur hangers put an end to both road and mountain bike races. Chances are pretty close to zero that another rider will have a spare derailleur hanger that fits your bike. If you break one of these and don’t have a spare, then the only thing you can do is attempt to convert your bike to single speed and hobble home. You can probably get a spare from your local dealer or online. Click here for a video on how to convert to a single speed in a pinch.

Fluids – Some people like camelbaks and sometimes they are necessary. It is a good idea to carry a camelbak when it is not possible to get to the next aid station before running out of water/nutrition. However, it is best if you can get from aid station to aid station with the bottles on the bike and/or in a pocket. I find camelbaks hard to drink from when I am huffing and puffing during a race. Bottles make it possible to take large drinks very quickly when the terrain allows. Also, camelbaks take time to stop and refill. Using bottles allows you to roll up to an aid station and have your fresh bottles handed to you before riding on. Depending on the race and your position, you may get your bottles handed up while continuing to pedal through the aid station. I personally recommend water bottles even for a 100 mile race.

If you arent racing, then I recommend carrying a cellphone, cash and an ID. That way you can head to the pub after the ride and call for a cab if needed. If there is anything that you feel should be added, then post it in the comments below.

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2 Replies to “What to Carry During a Bicycle Race or Ride”

  1. I love my Rambler as well but its not a water bottle. It’s a large cup. I’d never fill it up, throw it in my pack, and head out for the day. It’s more of a home/car/office cup. You can screw tops on bottles…..

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